Burnley landlady calls time on rude customers who refuse to follow new 'roadmap out of lockdown' rules
'Have fun, enjoy yourself, but please follow the rules.'
That is the plea to customers from the landlady of a popular Burnley pub.
Jaimie Hopwood, who runs the Thornton Arms, said that while they had enjoyed a 'brilliant' week after opening for the first time since Christmas, there were still some customers who simply refused to follow the rules and had even subjected staff to a torrent of abuse when asked to keep to the guidelines.
She said: "The majority of people have been fantastic. They are so happy to be out after all this time in lockdown and we have received some great, positive feedback.
" But there are some who just won't follow the rules and it spoils it for everyone else. It can try your patience at times but we just have to deal with the situation in a professional manner.
"We want people to realise the rules have been put in place by the government, not us, and we have to follow them for the sake of everyone's safety.
"If we don't, we are the ones who face a huge fine and possible closure."
Under the new roadmap out of lockdown rules groups of people are permitted to eat and/or drink outside at pubs and restaurants so long as they observe the rule of six, which allows half a dozen people from different households to meet – or if they come from two different households.
This means that two large families can meet up outside even if together there are more than six people present. And only table service is allowed.
The rules also state everyone must remain seated and, unless exempt, everyone must wear a mask while walking to the bathroom facilties.
The newly refurbished outdoor area at the Thornton Arms in Brownside Road has been popular with customers and, since re-opening on Monday last week, Jaimie said they had welcomed around 1,000 people into the beer garden.
But 41-year-old Jaimie, who runs the hostelry with her husband Gavin Fernavs and her sister, Lauren Hopwood, revealed they had been forced to ask some customers, to leave the premises when they repeatedly refused requests to follow the rules by standing up, mingling with other tables and refusing to wear their masks.
Lauren (37): "Some people think everything is back to normal but we are still a long way off from that.
"We are certainly not back to normal times and this is something we all have to do to make sure we get there.
"There is a lot of work that has gone on behind the scenes to get the place ready also.
"If people think we have had a six month holiday they are wrong, it has been a really uncertain time and hospitality has been among the hardest hit by the pandemic."
To keep things running smoothly the Thornton Arms team has laid on extra staff so that people are not waiting a long time to be served. And 14 to 16 hour shifts, seven days a week, are the norm for Jaimie and Lauren.
Jaimie described the pub, where she has worked for the past 15 years, seven of those at the helm, as 'my heart and home.'
She said: "I have put so much into this place, it is my business and my home and I love it.
" I want customers to come here and have an enjoyable time. But please be sensible too."
It won't be until May 17th at the earliest that pubs and restaurants can open indoor spaces.
At this point, the rule of six and two households rule will be introduced indoors. It will be lifted outdoors, meaning people will be able to meet in larger groups in beer gardens or when dining al fresco.
Jaimie added: "It has been an horrendous year but things are looking up and there is light at the end of the tunnel."